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What are the different types of Computer Cables?

Learn about the different computer cables

You may have heard these terms before; VGA, DVI, HDMI, etc. But if you’re not too familiar with computers, all of those are sure hard to remember sometimes, as they are all abbreviations. While some types of cables are easy to remember, some others are a bit more obscure since we don’t use them as often in general. Therefore, here’s a list of the main computer cables with their names, functions, and a guide on how to use them.

What’s a VGA Cable?

VGA stands for Video Graphics Array. Its purpose is to connect computers and monitors together. Due to the arrival of the HDMI, it is not used much these days. However, many devices that display images and videos still provide a port for a VGA cable connection. This type of cable can be remembered easily because it shows 15 pins divided into 3 rows of 5 pins. The port is usually blue, so it’s easy to spot it on the fly.

What’s a DVI Cable?

DVI stands for the Digital Visual Interface. This is another cable that is tricky to understand. There is only one DVI cable, yet there are many sub-categories such as DVI-A, DVI-D, and DVI-I. These are used to transmit both digital and analog signals, which is quite an advantage over VGA cables that can only transmit analog signals. Also, neither DVI nor VGA can transfer audio signals, thus why they are becoming more and more obsolete.

What’s an IDE Cable?

IDE stands for Integrated Drive Electronics. These cables might sound unfamiliar because most of us don’t need them anymore. Its functions are to connect the motherboard to outside storage devices like a floppy disk drive or a hard drive. They are also called IDE ribbon cables as they are wide and flat, which makes them look like a ribbon. They have two different plugs with 40 pins for the more common standard version and 34 pins for the smaller one.

What’s a SATA Cable?

SATA stands for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. These ports have eight pins each on their connectors. Usually, they are preferred over IDE cables in newer hard drive models and are mostly used for storage devices. With the climb in popularity of SSD drives though, many models use a PCIe connector or a SATA Express connector. Some come even soldered to the motherboard itself.

What’s an HDMI Cable?

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. This cable became the universal standard for all screens, video game consoles, and other HD outputting devices on the market. HDMI cables have several types which are A, B, C, and D. One of the big advantages of HDMI is that the audio signal goes through, and is cable of transmitting 4K with no problems. Your TV screens all use this type of cabling nowadays, making it the top solution for receiving and transmitting video and audio signals.

What’s an Ethernet Cable?

You might have of these at home hooked to your internet router. These cables are used for setting up the LAN (Local Area Network) to connect devices, such as routers or modems to computers directly. There are many types of Ethernet cables, and each type can transmit data at a faster speed than the previous one, for example, Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6, etc.

What’s an eSATA Cable?

eSATA is referred to as external Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. These cables are the improved version of SATA cables. They come with a possibility to connect external devices, such as optical drives and external hard drives.

What’s a USB Cable?

USB is for a Universal Serial Bus. You probably know this one as you can find USB ports on pretty much everything. Indeed, mice, flash drives, or keyboards, and many others use this type of cable. They are varied in sizes/shapes according to their purpose and data transfer capacity:

  • USB 1.0 is able to transmit up to 12 Mbps
  • USB 2.0 is able to transmit up to 480 Mbps, and can also work well with older versions of USB drives.
  • USB 3.0 is able to transmit up to 4.8 Gbps, and can also work with earlier USB models.
  • Micro and mini USB are normally used for small electronics like phones or cameras.

What’s a FireWire Cable?

Firewire technology has, unfortunately, died a couple of years ago. It was a type of cable that was used primarily with audio interfaces such as sound cards. Firewire800 was considered the top of the line in terms of speed for audio data transfer. Some Mac computers even have a dedicated Firewire port integrated into their build. Nowadays, you won’t see much of this port anymore, but know that its connector looks a bit like a small rectangle.

In conclusion

Understanding the different functions of each computer cable is often a lifesaver when you are trying to set up a new computer office or a new studio. Also, hopefully, you might even be able to fix some basic connecting problems with this information.